With today’s technology, it’s easy for a negligent driver to get distracted behind the wheel. One of the primary distractions is cell phones. With notifications for text messages, emails, news alerts, phone calls, and more, drivers are often tempted to pick up their phones to attend to matters that could undoubtedly wait until they’re off the road.
When a driver doesn’t have their eyes, mind, and hands simultaneously focused on their vehicle and the road, the chances for an accident increases significantly. If a driver glances away from the road for five seconds while traveling 55 miles per hour, they will have traveled the entire length of a football field without processing what’s going on around them.
While there are many cars that offer hands-free cell phone options and phones that allow for voice commands, the issue of phone manipulation while driving is still a concern. Recognizing the dangers of distracted driving and making sure to drive responsibly is critical in preventing collisions.
Mississippi’s Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving laws are established at the state level. It’s important to be aware of the laws in your state, so you can abide by them and make the roads safe. Across the country, 16 states prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. While no state bans cell phone use for all drivers, 38 ban use by teen or novice drivers and in 21 states school bus drivers are not allowed to use cell phones while driving. Text messaging is banned in 47 states.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in Mississippi there is no hand-held ban on cell phones, but school bus drivers are never allowed to use their phones. Texting and driving is not allowed. It’s also important to note that the distracted driving laws in Mississippi are subject to primary enforcement. This means that police offers are allowed to stop a driver and ticket them if they see a violation.
What Actions Are Considered Phone Manipulation?
When people think about the dangers of using their phone behind the wheel, it’s typical to think of texting and driving or talking. There are a variety of other dangerous behaviors drivers can engage in that they might not even realize could cause an accident. The most common include checking emails, responding to social media messages, looking at a phone while it’s in a mount, wearing a Bluetooth earpiece or headset to talk, wearing headphones or earbuds to listen to music, manipulating a navigation app, and simply holding the phone.
The majority of drivers complete those visible behaviors at stop signs or red lights, which is still a dangerous idea. Being unaware of what’s happening outside of your own vehicle for even a second can result in a crash.
Federal and State Distracted Driving Programs and Initiatives
In order to spread awareness about the dangers of phone manipulation while driving there are state and federal programs dedicated to educating all drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has an advertising campaign called U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Every April, the NHTSA teams up with state and local law enforcement to make the roads safer. Special efforts are made to identify and ticket anyone who risks their safety and the safety of others by driving distracted.
Specifically in Mississippi, the Mississippi Highway Patrol runs an initiative called Pay Attention or Pay a Fine. While this started in Oxford, it has branched out. Law enforcement recognizes that distracted driving creates deadly situations. The campaign, which runs at different times throughout the year, is dedicated to identifying negligent drivers and holding them responsible for their actions by increasing the law enforcement presence on the roadways.
Unfortunately, the laws and programs in place to discourage drivers from using their cell phones behind the wheel will not stop everyone from driving recklessly. Instead, many drivers believe they can rely on their vehicle’s technology to keep them safe.
With advanced vehicle technology that can detect potential hazards, some drivers may question why using a phone while driving is still dangerous. Even with blind spot detection, lane departure warning systems, and advanced driver assist programs, drivers still need to be aware and focused at all times.
If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver and are struggling to recover, there are steps you can take to seek compensation from the at-fault party. Our lawyers can walk you through the legal process and help you get your life back in order. Schedule a free consultation with us today to get started.